It turns out that a couple of months have made a huge difference in the perception of the Miami Dolphins’ direction as a franchise.
Head coach Brian Flores was viewed as one of the brightest, most inspirational leader of men in the NFL.
He appeared poised to take the Dolphins to the playoffs, or at least on its doorstep at the very least.
However, things have not gone according to plan.
Miami is on a six-game losing streak after defeating the New England Patriots in Week 1.
The immediate future doesn’t provide any rest for the weary either, as the Dolphins visit the Buffalo Bills in Western New York on Sunday.
How did we get here?
Let’s take a look back at why Flores was so well regarded in the first two years of his Miami tenure, and where things have gone south in 2021.
Statement from Head Coach Brian Flores. pic.twitter.com/dJOdHHSvNT
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 29, 2020
Flores’ 2019 and 2020 Highlights
Although not officially admitted to by anyone affiliated with the team, the Dolphins were looking to accumulate draft capital during the 2019 season as a primary objective.
The “Tank For Tua” movement was in full effect, and throughout the first four weeks of the season, Miami went 0-4, losing by a combined total of 163-26.
After a Week 5 bye, however, Flores was able to reignite the Dolphins’ competitive juices, and they finished the season with a total of five victories.
Their ensuing losses were also much more encouraging than the blowouts they suffered in the first month.
In 2020, Miami experienced a lot more success and reason for optimism.
A lot of that was largely due to the play of the Flores-led defense, who emerged as one of the best units in the NFL.
The Dolphins defense was tied for the league lead in interceptions with 18 and were tops in the NFL in turnover percentage (they forced the highest percentage number of drives that ended in an opposition giving the ball away).
Despite switching away from and back to Fitzpatrick on a couple of occasions, the team remained focused and in the mix for an AFC playoff spot until the final week of the season.
Flores’ 2021 Lowlights
Flores’ level of command over the team appeared to be one of his strong suits heading into a 2021 campaign where Miami was expected to take another step forward.
Their fortunes seemed to be headed in a positive direction after Week 1, as their defense forced a late-game fumble from Patriots RB Damien Harris, which got them the ball back and saved the game.
But uninspiring losses to the Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers left the team in a funk.
Their schedule seemed to ease up a bit with matchups against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons.
Koo called GAME ‼️
📺: FOX pic.twitter.com/Bx795lGnuD
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 24, 2021
However, Flores made some questionable decisions in the Jaguars game, and they ended up falling to a team that was winless on the year.
Another buzzer-beating defeat to the Falcons last Sunday has left the team reeling, and has left Flores in a predicament where he has to answer questions on a weekly basis about whether Tagovailoa is truly the answer under center.
Flores has navigated Miami through tricky situations before, and will need to rally the team in order to confidently prove to Dolphins ownership that he’s still the man for the job.